Consumers rush to list on Do-Not-Call registry

PHOTO: Consumers rush to list on Do-Not-Call registry

Eager to be rid of pesky telemarketing calls and texts, consumers on Monday flocked to list their numbers on a new registry that lets them block such sales tactics.

The national Do-Not-Call (DNC) registry opened a month ahead of its official launch on Jan2 to cater to early birds. The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), which manages the registry, said it had 67,000 listings as at 6pm on Monday.

People may be keen to register ahead of the launch because phone owners who list their numbers after Jan 2 will still have to put up with 30 to 60 days of unwanted calls or texts.

After the registry is launched, companies must check it every 60 days. This will be cut to 30 from July.

From Jan 2, consumers who receive telemarketing calls though they are on the registry can complain to the PDPC.

Telemarketers who call numbers listed on the registry risk a maximum fine of $10,000.

Some consumers experienced delays in registering on Monday.

The PDPC said on the website that M1 customers might have problems because of hiccups on the telco's network relating to the sending of SMS since 9am.

"Please note that you may experience delays in receiving one-time passwords if you are on M1 network," read the notice, removed by the evening.

One-time passwords are needed to complete online registrations. Alternatively, users can register by phone or SMS.

IT engineer Ben Tan, 40, said he waited half an hour for a one-time password that had expired by the time it arrived. Mr Tan, an M1 user, said he finally registered by sending an SMS, instead of trying to do it online.

Consumers are looking forward to the registry, announced two years ago.

Engineer Ngiam Shih Tung, 46, said: "I have been waiting a long time to block out nuisance calls and SMSes."

Business development director Aaron Koh, 37, said he was getting an increasing volume of unsolicited SMS texts and calls which did "not fail to remind me to list my number with the registry".

Marketing messages sent via instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp to the numbers on the registry will be prohibited too.

The only exception is if written consent has been given to companies from consumers to be contacted by telemarketers.

The DNC registry is a key part of the new Personal Data Protection Act, which aims to protect personal information from being stolen or indiscriminately collected and used for marketing.

The Act, which took effect on Jan 2, stipulates a fine of up to $1 million for companies that fail to tell consumers at the point of collection how they plan to use their contact details, or to get their explicit consent before calling or texting them to market products.

itham@sph.com.sg


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.